Monday, October 01, 2012
Editor's Note: I have discovered that there is a small backlog of comments on earlier posts that are awaiting moderation. I should have received email notification of each comment, but did not. I will moderate these as soon as I can. My apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. Update: After a bout of comment spam, which I reported via a "spam" button, my GMail brilliantly concluded that all email from Blogger's comment system was spam. This is absurd since Google owns both Blogger and GMail: Google's own anti-comment spam tools are making it harder for me to use email to handle comments! In any event, I think I've moderated all the comments and am now aware of the issue...
Leaving aside cheating by the Chavez regime, it looks like there might be some dim electoral hope for Venezuelans: The Telegraph has run a story on an opposition figure who sounds like he could give Hugo Chavez a run for his money in Venezuela's presidential elections next Sunday:
The Sunday Telegraph spent a day on the campaign trail with [Henrique] Capriles as he dashed across two states, drawing crowds from the coffee plantations of the Andean foothills to the steamy lowlands around Lake Maracaibo.He certainly sounds like he has lots of support. He also has lots of experience in the "rough and tumble" politics of his country. So Capriles sounds like he's viable, anyway. But would he be substantially different than Chavez? On the one hand, he opposes Chavez's cosy relationships with the world's most despicable dictators, and he calls Chavez's land "reform" program a "disaster". On the other hand, Capriles hardly strikes me as a principled opponent of Chavez.
Until recently, he would walk routes thronged by supporters for several miles each day. But as their numbers have surged, the candidate has been forced to swap feet for wheels and now takes centre stage in a colourful caravan of cars, buses, lorries and motorcycles that wend their way between appearances.
Capriles admits that he'd keep at least one of Chavez's programs in place, and he isn't exactly speaking of abolishing the disastrous land "reforms", either:
Mr Capriles pledged that his government would review as "my responsibility under the law" each such case, including the seizure of estates from the Vestey Group, the family-owned ranching and sugar cane company headed by Lord Vestey, one of Britain's richest men. Decisions on whether to return property would be determined by several factors, including whether compensation was paid and who was now living on the land.The one "factor" that really matters here -- but is missing -- is, "Who is the rightful owner of the land?" Capriles also admits that he would, in some form, keep at least one other program started by Chavez. It's as if his campaign slogan, "There is a way" is an unfinished sentence, ending with, "... to make a state-run economy work."
Nevertheless, as big a disaster as Chavez has been, Capriles could offer time and breathing room for freedom-loving Venezuelans to make further inroads into changing the culture of their country -- or leaving. Assuming that is the case, I hope he wins.
Today: Added update to Editor's Note.